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  • ART INC. AMERICAN PAINTINGS FROM CORPORATE COLLECTIONSReview by: Raymond L. WilsonARLIS/NA Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 2 (FEBRUARY 1980), p. 60Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Art Libraries Society of NorthAmericaStable URL: .Accessed: 14/06/2014 04:02

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  • 60 A RUSI NA Newsletter. February 1980

    and restricts keyphrases to 10 terms or 65 characters?the volume

    provides a treasure-trove of information about the Bodleian Li

    brary's western manuscript holdings that would not otherwise be available.

    Julian G. Plante Hill Monastic Manuscript Library

    ART INC. AMERICAN PAINTINGS FROM CORPORATE COLLECTIONS. Birmingham, Alabama, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 1979. 298 p. illus. index of artists and corporations, bibliog. LC 78-65838. ISBN 0-89616-008-4. $15 (paper).

    In spite of the self-serving declaration by the sponsor of this project, the Honorable Winton M. Blount, former Postmaster General of the United States, that the art and corporate worlds share a community of interest because "Both are concerned with

    brightening and strengthening the quality of life," American Paintings From Corporate Collections is an important exhibition and survey of the subject, as now and for many years corporations and individual entrepreneurs have been important sources of

    patronage for the products of American art, including not only painting, as represented in this catalog, but of architecture and

    sculpture as well.

    Seemingly, many of the best of twentieth-century American

    painters have either been retained to produce works or submitted works for corporate-sponsored competitions, thematic programs, or that most dreadful of compromises?advertising promotions. Charles Sheeler, for instance, was commissioned to do a series of

    paintings on power by Fortune magazine; Georgia O'Keeffe once worked for Dole Pineapple; and Ben Shahn created material for the Container Corporation of America.

    In a certain sense, of course, all artists are businessmen engaged in free enterprise, but to draw analogies as Mr. Blount persists in

    doing, between the modern corporation and the Church or certain Florentine banking families, seems a trifle far-fetched. After all, for the Medieval Church, pictures were the Biblia pauper urn, an inten tion presumably inimicable to corporate collectors; and quattro cento merchants took a far more immediate and direct interest than their modern counterparts in the preparation of works they

    were to buy from well-known artists, even to meddling in the kinds of paints and materials to be used.

    Quibbling aside, though, this is a fine and well-conceived production. Of 300 corporations holding collections of American paintings, thirty were solicited, with three paintings from each of the latter group represented in the exhibition. The aim of the ex hibition, according to the museum director, "... is to point out the

    interesting range of work that has been collected and the adven turous collecting patterns of certain corporations. We selected some companies because of their pioneering role, others because of the current vigor of their collecting." Indeed, there are works by Thomas Cole and by Winslow Homer, by Josef Albers and by Roy Lichtenstein. AU reproductions are in color with excellent

    separation and crisp rendering of line and tone. Of corollary and compelling interest, however, are the ques

    tions of who collects and why. In his introduction, Mitchell Kahan divides his subject into two parts, with the first devoted to the history of corporate collecting, and the second to contemporary collecting and support of the arts. One of the first corporate patrons and collectors was the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe

    Railroad, which began offering artists free rides to the Southwest in 1900 in exchange for paintings of local scenery which were subsequently used in advertising flyers and on dining car menus. In

    1939, IBM began organizing the first corporate collection as such, mostly of American painters, as most of the Old European Masters were already safely tucked away in the collections of the Fricks, the M?lions, and the Morgans. Still, it was only with the end of the Second World War that corporate collecting got underway on a big scale.

    As to why corporations and businessmen should acquire paintings, several reasons are advanced. There is the advertising

    value?directly and indirectly?of owning works by famous

    artists. There is the obvious aspect of making a simple financial investment like any other kind. There is the idea of enriching the civilization in which one does business, an idea admittedly not wholly different from the Florentines' belief that art was a direct

    expression of the glory of their city. Finally, there is the claim that "A creative environment stimulates creative thinking." Apart from the history of corporate collecting and contemporary trends, Mr. Kahan's introduction contains a number of interesting facts: most

    corporate collectors doing business within the United States collect

    primarily American paintings; the current trend is towards ac

    quiring abstract rather than representational paintings, and those in the $1,000 to $5,000 price range. This book will be a valuable stimulus to historians, and an important addition to the bibliogra phy on American painting. Such an exhibition excites wonder and

    curiosity, and one can only hope for further such excursions into the boardrooms, offices, and workshops of American corporate collectors.

    Raymond L. Wilson Ohio University

    FREDERICK REMINGTON (1861-1909) PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS, AND SCULPTURE IN THE COLLECTION OF THE R.W. NORTON ART GALLERY, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA. Shreveport, Louisiana, R.W. Norton Art Gallery, 1979. 108 p. illus. title index, bibliog. LC 78-7114. ISBN 0-913060 14-3. $8.

    Never more popular in his own lifetime than now, the shelf of books on Remington and his art continues to grow. Besides the

    present work, there are several recent Remington collection and exhibition catalogs. Three of the largest and most important Remington collections are at the Remington Art Memorial at

    Ogdensburg, New York, near Remington's birthplace of Canton, and at the Amon Carter Museum and in the Sid W. Richardson collection in Texas. The latter two are represented in Peter Hass rick's lavish collection catalog, Frederick Remington, published by Abrams in 1973. Other recent catalogs include that commemorat

    ing the show at the Whitney Museum of Western Art in 1974, called The Art of Frederick Remington, and Frederick Reming ton: Selections From The Hogg Brothers Collection, published by the Museum of Fine Arts at Houston in 1973. Adding to this group is the new catalog of the Remington collection of the R.W. Norton

    Art Gallery at Shreveport, Louisiana.

    By comparison with those at the Remington Art Memorial or the Carter Museum, the Norton collection is small. Many of

    Remington's more famous paintings as A Dash For Timber, The

    Cowboy, Evening on A Canadian Lake, and Charge of The Rough Riders At San Juan /////are held by larger and more generously en dowed institutions. Nonetheless, the Norton collection includes some of Remington's more significant works, both in terms of his career and his development as a painter. Arrival of A Courier, for instance, is considered by Peter Hassrick to have gained for

    Remington his first official sanction as an artist from the National Academy of Design. Also included are Remington's first oil

    painting, titled Watering The Remuda, done in 1885, and Calling The Moose, a tranquil and evocative work done in 1901 and close

    ly related in theme and composition to Evening on A Canadian Lake. The collection also includes a number of drawings made for

    magazine illustrations and a few leaves from some of the artist's

    early sketchbooks. The sculpture portion of the collection

    comprises castings of many of Remington's famous bronzes

    including The Bronco Buster and Coming Through The Rye. Prefacing the collection is a fine introduction by Professor Brian

    W. Dippie which originally appeared in the April, 1975, issue of American Heritage magazine. In reconstructing Remington's life,

    Dippie notes his continuing preoccupation with the military, specifically the United States Cavalry, horses, and the outdoors. He emphasizes that Remington's career was based in large part on

    providing illustrations for popular magazines, and that he possessed the illu